Gov. Gibbons splits with anti-waste panel on state fees

LAS VEGAS " Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said Thursday that he disagrees with his own state government efficiency panel on whether fees should be raised on businesses.

Gibbons acknowledged taxpayers are subsidizing licensing and other services provided to businesses by the state, a point raised in a December report from the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission.

The commission recommended Nevada agencies review their fee structures every two years to ensure the state is collecting enough fees to cover the cost of services.

But Gibbons said "now is not the time" to look at such increases.

"We haven't kept up with what it cost to, say, make a copy of a license or a document in the government," Gibbons said, but added he would not support fixing the problem immediately. "No, now is the not the time because the person who's out there asking for a document today is a person who themselves has less revenue coming in."

Gibbons repeated his position that he would only endorse fee increases first agreed to by the industries affected.

He made the comments after speaking at a meeting of the commission, which Gibbons created last year to recommend ways of saving the state money. The governor told commissioners he is expecting the state budget to be $3 billion short of what's needed to maintain services at previous levels.

Besides the recommendation on fees, the commission has proposed eliminating health care subsidies for future state employees, cutting subsidies to existing retirees and other measures.

On Thursday, commission chairman Bruce James urged Gibbons to consider another proposal. Spending state money to promote the 2010 census could result in a more accurate population count and help Nevada access more federal funding over the next decade, James said.

Gibbons' budget does not include census funding, commissioners noted.

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